Volume 12|December 2020
Ohio Water Resources Center Newsletter
From Our Directors
Conducting research during a pandemic involves a myriad of new challenges. COVID-related restrictions delay the collection and analysis of data and limitations on indoor capacity slows the pace at which work can be completed in a lab or similar indoor sites. Working from home and balancing family obligations is also challenging many researchers to adapt in order to maintain similar levels of productivity. As the pandemic causes many to live in a state of flux, hiring has also become more difficult.

All of these challenges can result in researchers needing to postpone projects. In order to accommodate researchers during these times, the Ohio WRC has granted funding extensions to projects affecting by COVID-19. No-cost funding extensions were secured from USGS for Water Resources Research Act of 1984 annual base grants (104b) in the Spring.
Spotlight
Statewide Wastewater Monitoring Project for COVID-19
Almost six months ago, the Ohio WRC started an effort with Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to monitor wastewater in Ohio for SARS-CoV-2 gene fragments. At that time, no standard method existed to measure wastewater SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations. As a result, the effect on measured concentrations from the different methods was poorly understood, the data on amount of viral RNA shedding in human feces were insufficient and wastewater based epidemiology was not widely applied. Nevertheless, early research reports from all over the world indicated the presence of RNA signals of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater may provide a leading indicator of COVID-19 community spread. These results caught Governor DeWine’s attention leading him to press for the formation of Ohio’s statewide monitoring network.
 
The project involves both research to overcome the barriers to using the technique while simultaneously building a useful monitoring tool. It often feels like we are “running the race while tying our shoelaces,” but with the help of a large number of partners, we are happy to report that the statewide network is up and running. With the help of our partners, this network includes over 50 sampling locations located at the influent of wastewater treatment plants that we monitor twice a week. The samples are then analyzed using seven different laboratories, many located at universities within the state of Ohio. These laboratories use different methods, but produce comparable results based on extensive interlaboratory validation procedures.   Future efforts will work on data modelling and comparison to clinical cases, communication of results, and understanding and improving the usefulness of the data for public health officials.
 
The wastewater data are published on the state coronavirus dashboard. To our knowledge, Ohio’s wastewater monitoring network is the largest statewide wastewater monitoring network. The network has been so well received that, in coordination with ODH, we are initiating campus wastewater monitoring for state universities during the spring semester.
 
Building this monitoring network has relied on CARES Act funding which ends on December 30, but unfortunately, COVID-19 has not gone away. We are currently working to locate funds to allow this network to continue until the need fades away.
 
We would like to conclude by giving a shout out to our wonderful partners, particularly Rebecca Fugitt, Rachel Townsend, and Jillian Garratt at ODH plus all the other ODH and local public department workers that put an incredible amount of effort and time into this project; Jay Garland, Nichole Brinkman, Scott Keely, and Michael Jahne as well as many others at US EPA; Tiffani Kavalec and Brian Hall at Ohio EPA; the many wastewater utility workers that have taken on this extra burden, been helpful, and an incredible resource; university researchers and all their students, namely: Jiyoung Lee, Mark Weir, Stan Lemeshow, and Natalie Hull at OSU; Saurabh Chattopadhyay and Dae-wook Kang at UT; John Senko at UA; Xiaozhen Mou at KSU; Joan Slonczewski at KC; and Timothy Davis at BGSU. 
If you have any questions, feel free to email OhioWRC@osu.edu.
From Our USGS Partner
Large-Scale Effort Will Examine Illinois River Basin Next
The USGS is investing in a Next Generation Water Observing System, or NGWOS, to help answer today’s complicated water questions. The USGS is currently using NGWOS to study two watersheds: the Delaware River Basin was chosen as the pilot watershed, followed by the Upper Colorado River Basin. The Illinois River Basin will be the third and was chosen to better understand water availability in a Midwestern watershed. In time, the USGS plans to increase the number of watersheds to 10 across the country. Information from these basins will help to develop a better understanding of water systems across the country to improve predictions of water quantity and quality for the future.
News Updates
Via Chemical & Engineering News, October 28, 2020

Via cleveland.com, October 29, 2020

Via Water & Wastes Digest, November 02, 2020

Via WaterWorld, November 05, 2020

Via WaterWorld, November 10, 2020

Via Norwalk Reflector, November 16, 2020

Via Bloomberg Law, November 17, 2020

Via Dayton 24/7 Now, November 19, 2020

Via Bloomberg Law, November 20, 2020

Via Spectrum News 1, November 21, 2020

Via Morning Journal, November 21, 2020

Via Water Finance & Management, November 23, 2020

Via Toledo Blade, November 23, 2020

Via Water Finance & Management, November 23, 2020
Have a news article you'd like us to feature in our Newsletter? Email us at OhioWRC@osu.edu!
Opportunities
ORBA Ohio River Basin Plan (2020-2025)
The Ohio River Basin Alliance released a sweeping strategy to help the 15-state region and its more than 25 million residents tackle environmental and economic threats. Click here to read the Plan for the Ohio River Basin 2020 - 2025.

The next phase, being led by goal-focused working groups, is to expand our coalition and to craft implementation plans. The six inter-related goals (committed leaders shown in parenthesis) are: Abundant Clean Water (Richard Harrison); Healthy and Productive Ecosystems (Jordan Lubetkin); Knowledge and Education to Inform Decisions (Heather Mayfield); Nation’s Most Valuable River Transportation and Commerce Corridor (Marty Hettel); Reliable Flood Risk Management (Dr. Sarah Hippensteel Hall); and World-class Nature-based Recreation Opportunities (Dr. David Wicks). Please read the Plan, and then send an email to the working group leaders to let them know where you would like to help. Click here to join ORBA.
EPA Viral Pathogen and Surrogate Approaches for Assessing Treatment Performance In Water Reuse - Request for Applications
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications proposing to conduct research on existing and novel surrogates for the detection and monitoring of the presence of human enteric viral pathogens and surrogates in water reuse applications, where wastewater is the source water. The RFA Close Date is January 6, 2021.

EPA People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) National Student Design Competition - Request for Applications
EPA announces the release of the 18th Annual P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition Focusing on P3 – Phase I Request for Applications (RFA). This collegiate design competition promotes the use of scientific and engineering principles to create innovative projects to address environmental challenges and develop real-world solutions. EPA is seeking applications in the research areas of Air Quality, Safe and Sustainable Water Resources, Sustainable and Healthy Communities, and Chemical Safety. The RFA Close Date is February 9, 2021.

Click Request for Applications for more information and register for an Informational Webinar to be held Wednesday December 2, 2020 2:00PM to 3:00PM.
EPA Deployment of Innovative Water Technologies for Very Small Drinking Water Systems, Areas Served by Private Wells and Source Waters - Request for Applications
EPA announces a new funding opportunity to facilitate multi-state cooperation and adoption of innovative water technologies. Expected outcomes of research from this RFA include: Reduced economic costs of deploying demonstrated innovative water technologies; Improved public health and reduced risks of deploying demonstrated innovative water technologies; and Streamlined approval process for demonstrated innovative technologies that provide clean drinking water supplies with minimal environmental impact. The RFA Close Date is January 12, 2021.

Click Request for Applications for more information and register for an Informational Webinar to be held Tuesday December 8, 2020 2:00PM to 3:00PM.
To find more resources offered by Ohio WRC, please visit: https://wrc.osu.edu/resources
Policy Update
Ohio EPA Draft Loading Analysis Plan - Stillwater River Watershed (2013)
The Stillwater River watershed was surveyed in 2013 and assessed for aquatic life and recreation beneficial uses. The results from this survey were used to develop a loading analysis plan. A loading analysis plan is the third step in the TMDL development process and lists actions to be taken by the Agency for sampling sites found to be impaired for a beneficial use designation. Due to existing TMDLs from 2004 and 2009, this project is considered a second round or "Round 2" project. Existing TMDLs will remain in place unless otherwise noted in the report. Comments are due by 5:00 PM, December 7, 2020 to EPATMDL@epa.ohio.gov. Click here for more information.
Ohio EPA Interested Party Review - General NPDES Permit Rules (OAC 3745-38-01, -02)
This rulemaking includes two general NPDES permit rules in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-38. The Agency has drafted revisions to these rules. Please see the related fact sheet for specific rule revisions. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. on December 09, 2020 to dsw_rulecomments@epa.ohio.gov. More information may be accessed here.
Ohio EPA Early Stakeholder Outreach - Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels Rules, no change (OAC 3745-82-01, -03, -04)
The rules in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-82 establish monitoring requirements and definitions for secondary maximum contaminant levels. Ohio EPA’s Division of Drinking and Ground Waters (DDAGW) is reviewing and considering no changes to these rules.
The early stakeholder outreach phase is an opportunity to shape the direction of rules before staff begin drafting rule language. By sharing your comments early in the process, Ohio EPA can consider different concepts and ensure our rule development takes into account the effects the rules will have. Comments are due by 5:00 PM, December 15, 2020 to ddagw_rulecomments@epa.ohio.gov. Click here for more information.
Ohio EPA Draft Loading Analysis Plan - East Fork Little Miami River Watershed (2012)
The East Fork Little Miami River watershed was surveyed in 2012 and assessed for aquatic life and recreation beneficial uses. The results from this survey were used to develop a loading analysis plan. A loading analysis plan is the third step in the TMDL development process and lists actions to be taken by the Agency for sampling sites found to be impaired for a beneficial use designation. Comments are due by 5:00 PM, December 28, 2020 to EPATMDL@epa.ohio.gov. Click here for more information.
Upcoming Events
Ohio Environmental Council Webinar - A Deeper Look: Water Infrastructure Trends & Lead Service Line Replacement Programs
December 04, 2021 01:00 PM • Virtual Conference
Join us for a webinar highlighting water infrastructure trends and needs in Ohio as well as best practices in lead service line replacement programs across the country.
Register here.
University of Illinois Conference - Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference 2021
April 27-28, 2021 • Virtual Conference
Mark your calendars for ECEC21. As in past years, the conference will feature presentations and lightning talks on the latest research, policy, and outreach on emerging contaminants in soils, water, and air. There will be opportunities for attendees to interact with presenters and each other through planned virtual spaces. Visit here for updates and Call for Abstracts.
WEF Conference - Residuals and Biosolids Conference 2021
May 11-14, 2021 • Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, OH
Save the date for the 2021 Residuals and Biosolids Conference and plan to experience a robust program highlighting continued advances in the wastewater residuals and biosolids sector. Potential speakers are invited to submit an abstract for podium presentation, workshop, virtual presentation, or exhibitor mobile session. Click here for details.
2021 Ohio Stormwater Conference
May 19-21, 2021 • Kalahari Resort and Conference Center, Sandusky, OH & Virtual
The 2021 Ohio Stormwater Conference is an annual conference dedicated to advance the knowledge and understanding of comprehensive stormwater management for those dealing in all aspects of planning, design, implementation and regulatory compliance. The conference will provide updates on environmental issues, new technologies, regulatory information and pollution prevention. The 2021 Ohio Stormwater Conference is a great opportunity to strengthen your skills and knowledge in an intensive workshop setting with other colleagues. This is anticipated to be a hybrid event. Visit here for updates.
2021 AEESP Research and Education Conference
July 13-15, 2021 • Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors' 2021 AEESP Research and Education Conference is planned for July. The conference theme is Environmental Engineering and Science at the Confluence: Convergence in Education and Research. A call for abstracts is out now, with abstracts due by January 29, 2021. Find more information at the conference website here.
2021 One Water Technical Conference
July 26-29, 2021 • , Duke Energy Convention Center Cincinnati, OH
OAWWA and OWEA are excited to announce that the Call for Abstracts for the 2021 One Water Technical Conference has now opened! You may submit your abstract here by January 15, 2021. The water and wastewater industries both face similar challenges with new and current regulatory requirements and development of emerging technologies as well as industry maintenance of our aging infrastructure being at a premium for our water and wastewater providers. We are looking to provide our members and conference attendees with a unique opportunity to gain professional development and educational opportunities for both industries at the same time.
WEFTEC 2021
October 16-20, 2021 • McCormick Place, Chicago, IL & Virtual
The 94th Annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition & Conference is planned for 2021! The WEFTEC Program Committee is planning for an in-person event if conditions allow. WEF will continue to monitor the situation. What we do know about WEFTEC 21 is that it will not be exactly like previous events and will be incorporating a limited virtual component. Visit here for more information.
Have an event you'd like us to feature in our Newsletter? Email us at OhioWRC@osu.edu!
Email: OhioWRC@osu.edu
Phone: 614-292-2807
Website: https://wrc.osu.edu/
Address: 311 Hitchcock Hall
2070 Neil Avenue 
Columbus, OH 43210